Placing a Child In a Foster Home Without His Father's Signature on the Plan

In Hudock v. Department of Public Welfare, 808 A.2d 310 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2002), the Court considered a case in which the Berks County Children and Youth Services Agency removed a child from her home and assumed care and responsibility for the child. Approximately one month later a common pleas court deemed the child to be a dependent child and granted custody to the Agency, which then placed the child in a foster home. The Agency prepared a Family Service Plan that provided for placement of the child in a foster home. The Agency provided the child's father with a copy of the plan, but the father did not sign the plan. The father sent a letter to the Department appealing the plan and requesting a hearing. Shortly thereafter the common pleas court issued an order continuing the status of the child as dependent and the Agency's custody of her. Further, the court ordered the Agency to continue to provide services for the child. The Agency filed a motion to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction and lack of specificity. The Department issued a rule to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed. The father amended his appeal to include a charge that the Agency had failed to act upon certain requests for services. The hearing officer in that case reviewed the pertinent Pennsylvania Code provisions and concluded that none of the father's claims fell within the terms of the regulation. Although the father had used the word "denial" to describe the Agency's alleged failures with respect to the plan, the hearing officer determined that the real nature of the father's complaints did not arise to a denial that would trigger the right to appeal under the regulation. The Court agreed with the Department's conclusion that the appeal did fall within the ambit of 55 Pa. Code 3130.62(a).